Governor Greg Abbott’s signature on new pro-gun legislation in Texas has been much anticipated by some and dreaded by others. In bold Texas-style, the signing ceremony for the licensed open carry law and the campus carry law has been scheduled to take place Saturday, June 13th at 12:30 pm. The ceremony is to be held where else, but at a gun range, specifically Red’s Indoor Range, 1908 West Pecan St. Pflugerville, TX.
Both the Campus Carry bill and the Licensed Open Carry bill were passed by the legislature in the closing moments of the 84th Legislative Session of 2015. Both bills were adamantly opposed by gun control advocates and have received mixed support from gun rights advocates. Touted by some gun rights organizations, like the NRA, as an “advancement of gun rights” in Texas, the open carry bill, which still requires a state permit in order to open carry, was not so well received by some of the most vocal and active citizens and grassroots groups who had fought for and succeeding in getting “Constitutional Carry” as a legislative priority in the Republican Party of Texas platform.
Governor Abbott, who said from day one of his governorship that he would sign an open carry bill when it reached his desk, had also voiced his support for “Constitutional Carry” as well. Though it did not come to pass, Gov. Abbott, a vocal gun rights supporter himself, will be signing Campus Carry and Licensed Open Carry into law. Some say that the choice of location for the signing ceremony is a symbolic rebut to the gun control advocates lobbying within Texas, who are largely out-of-state organizations and groups funded by billionaire and ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Since post-Civil War Reconstruction, Texans have had a sore spot for Northern “carpet-baggers” coming into their state and telling them what to do.
With the signing of these two gun bills into law, along with the 20 yr old concealed carry law, Texas will end 140 years of post-Reconstruction law banning the carry, now openly, of handguns in public in Texas. This Open Carry law will only affect a small fraction of Texas citizens, the current roughly 900,000 Texans who hold a current Concealed Handgun License and those who apply for and receive a handgun license in the future. Pro-gun groups hope that it will set the stage for further pro-gun legislation in future legislatures.
Though Campus Carry was opposed by many Texas Universities, Concealed Carry permit holders can already carry on campus, just not inside buildings. The new law would allow license holders to carry inside campus facilities, but still allow universities to designate some of those building as “gun free zones.” Campus Carry, like the Licensed Open Carry, only affects a handful of Texas students on college campuses. They cannot Open Carry under the new open carry law on campus, they must have a license to carry and they must be over 21 yrs old in order to get a handgun license in the first place.
In short, with this Licensed Open Carry and Campus Carry legislation signed into law, Texas will “boldly go where 46 other states have already gone” as Sen. Craig Estes put it.